If you're a fiend for boutique effects pedals and other high-end musical bits and bobs, you'll want to know about Mocha Earth Music. Based out of Sydney, the newly minted online store specialises in premium pedals built by independent manufacturers around the world, with owner Chris Ho pouring his time, energy and expertise into selecting only the best stompboxes for his store. To find out more about the new business, we hit up Chris to chat all things pedals, what he offers to Australian buyers, and what to expect from Mocha Earth Music.
Mocha Earth is a relatively new name for most of us - tell us about the business and why you started it.
Chris: Mocha Earth Music is an independently owned and run online shop, selling quality boutique music gear made by equally independent companies. Most of the products are handmade by our suppliers. Some of them are just an “one-man-band” so to speak. We are just a bunch of passionate musicians wanting to do what we love the most.
There aren't any complicated thoughts behind starting this business. From a musician point of view, I’d like to see more variety and options being offered in Australia. Beside the more better-known brands, there's still a lot of cool gear out there waiting to be discovered. I can’t get enough gear... LOL!
You guys are bringing in some pretty sweet new effects pedals that the average musician mightn’t have ever heard of before. Can you tell us a bit about the brands you’re carrying?
Chris: Basically, I handpick all the brands we do. A lot of research and testing go behind the scenes to make sure there is something unique about each of these brands. For example, Zander Circuitry’s pedals offer a massive amount of tweakability on almost all of their pedals. Their special six-way rotary knob offering six different clipping options is just one of the coolest things in the market.
The Antare overdrive pedal from Tate FX is another fantastic example that I can’t recommend enough to people. It’s a stripped down Tubescreamer with asymmetrical clipping then output from a SD-1 minus the buffer. The front end is a buffered split for the blend, so when the clean blend is at zero, it’s a buffered signal straight to the output. As you bring up the blend, it blends the drive circuit in parallel to the clean. I was sworn by my SD-1, but it’s been replaced by the Antare on my board now.
The Rombo picks are not just funky and cool to look at, but it actually feels great in the hand and plays really well. It makes a difference in your playing. A good pick is very important. Or Brian May wouldn’t stick with his sixpence forever!
Beside all the new brands, I am also very proud to have Hylight Electronics, the brainchild of the late British audio engineer David Reeves, onboard with me and offering the full range of their Gary Hurst (Father of Tone Bender) pedals in Australia. Hylight Electronics made high quality amps during the 60's, along with other well known manufacturers of the period, that were largely responsible for shaping the sound of British rock during the 60's, 70's and beyond. Bands such as Pink Floyd, the Moody Blues, the Rolling Stones, and The Who have all used Hylight made amps to help create their legendary sounds.
Each of the brands has a good story behind them and a lot to talk about. Do check out the brands page on our website for more detail!
You seem to have a preference for pedals made by independent manufacturers. How vital is it for businesses to support independent boutique manufacturers in the music retail climate we live in today?
Chris: As an independent business, it is very important for me to support independent manufacturers. There are a lot of creative people out there and they make some really interesting and unique gear. It takes a lot of courage to make something and put it out there for the world to see, let alone starting a business. A lot of them would’ve given up and left their dreams behind. For those who went ahead and continue chasing deserve the support!
On the other hand, as a muso myself, as much as we like to copy our heroes, I think most musicians want to have their own voice and their own sound. Something people can identify with. Like The Edge with delay, The Police with chorus, The Smashing Pumpkins with Op-amp Muff. It is important to me to have individuality, offering something different. Similarly, I appreciate little boutique stores much more than seeing the same shop in every shopping centre.
A lot of the pedals you’re bringing in are also quite unique in their design and tone. What motivated you to pick up these brands for the Australian market? Is there anything in particular that you look for with pedals like these?
Chris: A lot of it comes down to my personal music taste I think, and at the same time, we want to offer something different, something you don’t see elsewhere. When you are passionate about the things you do, your work will show and that’s what I see in the brands I carry. It’s important for me to know that there's a lot of love and attention put into the products. It could only result in quality products.
Aside from new effects pedals, does Mocha Earth supply any other products or services that could be useful for musicians?
Chris: Certainly. We currently also offer some guitar accessories, such as the Heistercamp leather straps, PedalPatch pedalboard patch cables, as well as the funky little Rombo picks. I am constantly talking to new suppliers and as we grow, I am sure we will have more to offer.
We have a pre-owned section on our website. I’m not officially open for trade-in or consignment sales at the moment, but I’m happy to discuss them on a case by case basis, until we become more established.
I am also thinking about offering a pedalboard design service, applying my experience on putting pedalboards together so many times over the past 25 years.
Mocha Earth looks like it’s an online store - what’s your shipping policy? How can we get in touch if we have any questions about the products you carry?
Chris: You can find our shipping and returns policy and detail info on our website here. In terms of getting in touch with us, there are a few different ways. The simplest way is to drop us a line with the contact form on our website. Alternatively, you can reach us via our social media pages (i.e. Instagram and Facebook). You can also message me via Whatsapp on our Facebook page.
Finally, what’s next for Mocha Earth’s mission?
Chris: To be honest, I am not thinking too far ahead at the moment when we are still trying to get our name out there. But I would love to get into offering some unique handmade instruments and amplifiers!
Keep your eyes peeled for more news from Mocha Earth soon, and in the meantime, check out everything they've got on offer on their website.